Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Georgia Rep. Betty Price said her question to a health official about whether HIV patients could legally be quarantined was "taken completely out of context."
The representative, who is married to former U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price, directed a question during the meeting to Dr. Pascale Wortley, head of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology division, regarding possible methods to curtail the spread of human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS.
"What are we legally able to do? And I don't want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it," Price said in the meeting. "Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition? So we have a public interest in curtailing the spread. What would you advise or are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?"
Price's statement on Saturday clarified that she does not support a quarantine for HIV patients.
"I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context," the statement reads.
"I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients. I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena -- a fire that will result in resolve and commitment to ensure that all of our fellow citizens with HIV will receive, and adhere to, a treatment regimen that will enhance their quality of life and protect the health of the public."
Georgia ranks No. 2 in the United States for the rate of new HIV infections, behind Louisiana. Data indicates more than a third of Georgians who are HIV positive are not receiving care for the virus.
"This is sad and troubling because we have come so far in HIV treatment, to the point where an HIV patient receiving recommended treatment is no longer able to transmit the disease to another person," Price's statement said. "This is something to celebrate, especially in stemming the transmission from a mother to her newborn baby."